In a move certain to draw controversy,
a Massachusetts gay rights group has posted the names of over 83,000
signers to an Arkansas anti-gay adoption and foster care petition.
KnowThyNeighbor.org says it's about
“This is about responsibility and
dialogue,” said Tom Lang, the group's director, in a statement.
“These petition signers need to stand behind their signatures and
be responsible for this dehumanizing attack on the gay community.
It's disgraceful that they have chosen to exercise their prejudice at
the expense of children who are now being denied access to loving
adoptive and foster parents. Such activity must be challenged and
cannot be allowed to pass under the cover of darkness.”
Act 1 was approved by 57% of voters on
November 4, 2008. It outlaws unmarried couples from adopting or
fostering children – single people, living alone, are free from the
restriction. And while the law bans both gay and straight couples,
it disproportionately impacts gay couples who cannot legally marry in
the state. During the campaign, the law's sponsoring group, the
Family Council Action Committee (FCAC), freely admitted it was
On its website, the FCAC listed three
primary reasons for the law: For the safety of children, to increase
the number of prospective homes, and to “blunt a homosexual
The FCAC is the same Little Rock-based
organization largely responsible for passage of a constitutional ban
against gay marriage in Arkansas in 2004. The FCAC is partially
funded by James Dobson's conservative ministry Focus on the Family
KnowThyNeighbor.org has posted similar
databases in the past. The group formed in 2005 as a response to a
proposed anti-gay marriage amendment in Massachusetts, and posted the
names and addresses of over 500,000 anti-gay petition signers.
The information listed is a matter of
public record and was provided by the Arkansas Secretary of State's
FCAC Director Jerry Cox called the
publication of petition signers “intimidation.”
“This is pure intimidation. Everyone
who looks at this website can see this is an effort on the part of
the radical gay organizations to intimidate citizens into not
exercising their rights,” Cox told the Arkansas News.
Disclosure of donors to an anti-gay
marriage campaign in California last year resulted in demonstrations,
boycotts and even job losses.
Lang said he expects many petition
signers will be confronted in a process he calls necessary.
“These conversations can be
uncomfortable for both parties. The more that gays and lesbians talk
about the importance of their relationships and their love for their
children, the faster stereotypes break down and both sides begin to
realize how much they have in common,” Lang, who is gay and
Gay men and lesbians are prohibited
from adoption in Florida. Mississippi and Alabama – states that
ban gay marriage – also limit adopting and fostering of children to
The Arkansas chapter of the
ACLU has filed a lawsuit on behalf of families harmed by the law.